Journal Day: #8

As someone who always needs more motivation to make time for writing, I’m so thankful that Danielle of Sometimes Sweet, has started the Journal Days project. So what is Journal Days? Well, every Sunday Danielle is sharing a prompt and on Thursday will be publishing her reply. Everyone participating is asked to comment on the post with a few lines from their response and a link to their post. I think one of the coolest things about blogging is the community surrounding it – so this is really a win, win for me! Feel free to join along, too! It’s never too late to start. Anyway, enough rambling. On to this week’s prompt…

Would you consider yourself a religious person? Quite simply- what do you believe happens when you die? Have you always believed this? Do your current beliefs align with what you were taught as a child? And if not, what was the turning point? This week, talk about your religion or spiritual beliefs (or perhaps your lack of), and try to sum up, if you can, what you believe happens “next.”

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Pink skies are my favorite.

Honestly, religion has never been a big part of my life. My mom was Jewish and my dad was Catholic, and they agreed to raise me and my brother with exposure to both but no pressure to practice either. So what that meant was we celebrated Christmas and Hannukah;  sometimes I went to temple with my grandma, other times I gave something up for Lent with my other grandma. Honestly, this never really bothered me and as a kid I just sort of coasted along not thinking about if I believed in God or what happened after we died – most kids don’t think about that stuff, right? But then my mom got sick with cancer and I started to question what exactly this meant and ask if there WAS a God, how could he allow my mom to be sick and dying?! But my mom never doubted. I honestly think her faith got stronger as she got sick. She wasn’t devout to her Jewish faith by any means, but she definitely believed in a higher power and always said “The 10 commandments are just a good way to live your life!” She also was positive that there was a heaven and she would be able to watch me and my brother grow up. She even said that she would close her eyes when we needed our privacy. Haha.

Once my mom was gone, I didn’t really think about religion or God anymore. I started to care more about Jewish holidays because it was a connection to my mom in some way. But I was 16, so honestly, religion was the last thing on my mind. I went on til I was 20 pretty much feeling the same way. I always labeled myself agnostic, but kind of assumed I believed in some sort of God. Because that’s normal right?

Then in the summer of 2010 I became a nomad for LiNK and I finally felt like I found a group of people who understood my passions. I was surrounded by other people who wanted to dedicate their lives to helping others. And want to know what a lot of them had in common? A lot of them were Christians. So once I was done at LiNK (at least for the summer – we all know I ended up back at LiNK less than a year later), I found myself back home wondering if maybe I should start going to church and pursue faith in some way. Luckily, my best friend Brianna is a Christian and was willing to talk to me and help me figure stuff out. And my other best friends, Ally and Bailley aren’t so they were there to talk to me about what it means to not really have faith and be okay with it. Basically, after lots of talking and wondering – I decided to go to church. And at first, I loved it! I was surrounded by rad people and it felt like built in friends. But as time went on I realized I was there for the wrong reasons. I didn’t believe in the words I was hearing and I didn’t feel anything when I sang along with the praise band. I loved being around awesome people and I agreed with a lot of Christian values but it wasn’t for me. (Want to know something funny? I bought a Bible during this time and hid it in my room because I felt so weird about it and because I had been so agnostic for so long. Looking back now I realize how ridiculous that is but at 20 you’re worried about being judged, ya know?)

Flash forward to now? Well, I know even less than I knew before. I guess I would label myself agnostic once again and I think I’m okay with that. I look around at my friends who are so sure of their faith and I get jealous – I would love to feel that. Especially when it comes to an afterlife. I would LOVE to believe my mom is able to watch my life and that I’ll be able to see her one day. But I can’t fake it. I think I’m someone who needs a bit more proof or for whatever reason, just can’t get on board with the idea of a God. Like I definitely don’t believe Jesus was the son of God, I don’t believe in the Virgin Mary, or really anything like that but I do think the bible has some good stories in it to help us learn how to live our lives (though I’ve never read the whole thing). I’m more unsure about my ideas surrounding a higher power in general… Like maybe I believe in some sort of God. Or maybe I believe in some sort of way we all stay connected even after death. Or maybe I just believe in the universe.

Speaking of afterlife, lately I’ve been playing around with the idea that when we die, and our bodies breakdown, we end up back in the Earth somehow. Maybe mom is part of a tree I pass every day, or in the clouds, or in a flower or maybe even in the person I meet on the bus. I have no idea. That probably doesn’t make sense to a lot of people but lately, it’s made me happy to think about so we’ll see where it goes from there.

Pretty much the only thing I 100% know I believe is that the most important thing we can do while we’re on this planet is love each other. I believe it’s our job as humans to care for one another – even strangers, even the “bad” ones, even people you will never know. I think all we can do while we’re here is be good to each other because who the hell knows what happens next. So whether you’re Christian, or Muslim, or Athiest, or Jewish, or whatever, I hope you use your faith to love others.

25 before 25: Travel out of the state, somewhere other than FL

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One negative about moving out of state is that most of your “vacations” are spent going back to your home state. Obviously, I love visiting Florida and I would never give up time with my family and friends to go on other trips BUT it is really exciting when I get to go on a vacation to a state other than Florida, especially when it’s somewhere I’ve never been before.

Two weeks ago Keith and I went to Seattle. We were so lucky, his dad and his dad’s wife bought us flights up to join them for Comic Con! First off, Keith and I had never traveled together. And secondly, I’d always wanted to go to Seattle but never had the chance. Plus I got to meet the other half of his family and he got to see them for the first time in like four years. Can you say win, win, win, win?

OH WAIT – how did I forget the biggest win? I won over $400 within a few hours of landing! How rad, right? Seriously, if you know me you know that I’m sort of an insane planner and even on vacation, I’m super conscious of money so winning that money meant being able to totally relax and spend without stress. Also buying dinner for everyone one night! I seriously LOVE being able to treat others.

Okay, so I’m already all over the place and I could go on about this trip forever so instead I’m gonna choose 5 things to talk about:

1) Families are so different. Growing up you only really have any info about how your own family works. So anything different from that is automatically bad but as you grow up you start to realize that it’s kind of awesome how different everyone is though it definitely causes some serious problems. (Especially when families start to merge, huh?) But this trip I got to meet Keith’s dad and his wife, his siblings, a couple aunts and uncles, a few cousins, and his grandparents. And even though this isn’t the family Keith grew up with, it was awesome to see how much is has in common with them and to just be accepted in as a part of this new family.

2) I should totally live in Seattle. No, seriously. I loved it so much. The weather was gorgeous, even when it was drizzling. The sights are amazing. The people seemed rad. Honestly, the whole weekend I walked around begging Keith to move to Seattle with me. Obviously this isn’t realistic, we both have jobs that keep us in LA and neither of us want that to change anytime soon. But it was fun to walk around day dreaming about packing up and moving to a new place. Honestly, part of the reason I want to move is because I could wear boots and scarves like every day, and most people walk around wearing all black. If that’s not a place I belong, then I don’t know what is! And their buses come like every 15  minutes and its SO easy to navigate their public transportation. UGH. Seriously. I need to live in Seattle.

3) Food is always one of the best parts of any trip. I know some people aren’t foodies but honestly, I don’t understand those people. One of my favorite things to do in a new city is try all the food the locals love! My favorites this trip were: Piroshki Piroshki (Russian buns – so warm and comforting), Beecher’s (free fresh cheese curds – yum), and Molly Moon’s (Thai tea and Stumptown coffee ice cream – are you serious?!). Keith and I also took a 4 hour sandwich adventure, which leads in to my next point very well…

4) Traveling together shows you a lot about your relationship. I’m a planner, and Keith is quite the opposite. And obviously we already knew that about each other and have been dating for quite a while and live together, but I was kinda worried traveling would bring out the bad sides. I would be lying if I said it was 100% perfect… Of course we had a couple moments of frustration. For example, I wanted to get on the plane as soon as boarding began, but Keith wanted to hang out in the terminal til it was closer to take off. Overall, though, we were great! We worked together, navigated the city via bus, walked up some serious hills, and overall had so much fun together. There were moments I would look over and it would hit me all at once how lucky I am to have him in my life and as my forever travel-buddy. Honestly, any man willing to go on a 4-hour adventure for a sandwich is the man for me!

5) Comic Con is fascinating. Totally not my world, but really interesting! If you ever want to people watch – that’s the place to go! It was cool to be surrounded by people who all love the same thing. It made me wish I was a huge fanatic about something because it’s so cool to see how much people LOVE their comics. I really enjoyed going to panels, too. Even though I didn’t really know what most of them were talking about, and a lot of the jokes went over my head, I really just enjoyed listening to people who are the experts in their field.

But of course, as happy as I was to visit Seattle and have the chance to travel, I was equally as happy to come back home! Isn’t that what makes traveling even better? Having a home that you’re so excited to get back to.

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Who knew gum could be art?
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Pike Place was my favorite.
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People go all out at Comic Con!
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Beecher’s Mac & Cheese!!!!!!
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Exploring a city on public transportation is the best.